Federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas to former national security adviser John Bolton’s publisher and literary agent, launching a criminal investigation into whether Bolton mishandled classified information, the Wall Street Journal reports. The subpoenas to Simon & Schuster and Javelin requested all communications with Bolton. Both companies were involved in publishing Bolton’s bestseller, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” which is highly critical of President Donald Trump. The Justice Department had filed a lawsuit against Bolton over the book’s publication and asked the court to set aside Bolton’s profits from the book. Bolton’s attorney, Charles Cooper, said Bolton “emphatically rejects any claim that he acted improperly, let alone criminally, in connection with the publication of his book.”
A criminal investigation raises the possibility that Bolton could face prison time if he is convicted of a crime. Trump has accused Bolton of lying and of including classified information in the book. DOJ accused Bolton of not waiting until his manuscript had received signoff from national security reviewers. The Justice Department argued that even though the initial government reviewer of the manuscript, Ellen Knight, judged the manuscript to be free of classified information in April, other senior officials later determined that version of the manuscript still contained classified passages. A federal judge suggested that Bolton may have exposed himself to criminal liability after he examined evidence the Justice Department provided to him under seal, essentially encouraging prosecutors to pursue a criminal inquiry.